Hey! Hi. Welcome to Bellz&Bunz

My very first blog post ( eeek!!!)  I guess I should start off by introducing myself, so  hi there and thank you for visiting my page.  I’ll keep it simple and straight forward, I’m a no frills kinda lady! Oh and I have a potty mouth ( sorry in advance).  My name is Denise, I’m married to Brad, I’m 37 and a mom of 2 boys. Jonathan who’s ( holy shit) turning 13 this year and Daniel who’s 10.  I am a full-time working mom, I guess I would be classified as a “gym-rat” ( where did that saying come from anyway???), I am currently enrolled in school part-time to become a registered nutritionist focusing on sports and nutrition, I have a lot of tattoos, I have an auto-immune disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis,  I seriously love lifting weights, it makes me feel strong and powerful. I wake up at 3am and hit the gym 6 days a week ( yes, you read that right, I said 3 am). I love yoga and add it in 2 days a week. My heaviest weight I’ve ever been is 242 lbs (I’m now 130lbs) I’ve yoyo dieted probably since I was 16 until this past year and half where I have changed my way of looking at nutrition, which you will learn a lot about here if you stick with me!

So why now- why the blog?  Well, here’s the thing I learned this past year that took me my entire life to understand. I can put myself first and not feel guilty about it. Why? because I am a better person, woman, mother, friend, daughter, sister, when I am healthy and happy.   This past 1.5 years, I have made my health a priority and it has changed my entire balance in love, health, family and motherhood.   Which is what has brought me here and the desire to empower and help other women with hopes to inspire them to live the best versions of themselves. Make themselves a priority and not for one minute feel guilty about it or make excuses.

My promise to you is I will keep it real, share my personal stories, my successes and my failures.  Workouts and fitness program recommendations that don’t suck ass and will get you results. I’ll be sharing my favorite recipes (I should mention that I am a wicked cook and baker). I’ll share my meal prepping guides/secrets and of course nutrition tips for you and your family.

I almost forgot, you must be wondering or have totally misunderstood the name of my page so let me get it straight. Bellz= barbells/dumbbells (because I love lifting heavy shit) and Bunz= hair bun ( not bun as in butts) because my hair is almost always in a top bun. If you ever run into me at the gym and my hair is in a bun, you know shit’s about to go down!  ( and don’t mind the above selfie- that’s me, raw and unedited)

I am so excited to start this journey with all of you!

P.S- follow my instgram @bellzandbunz

xo

Denise


Asian Flare Rice Bowl

Jasmine rice is my boys favorite type of rice, but seriously can you blame them? it needs so little added ingredients to make it taste good.

This is my first year having a garden, and its full of my favorite fresh herbs, which is what inspired me to make this dish.  Fresh basil and jasmine rice go hand in hand, it’s a perfect partnership!

Ingredients:

Rice: 1.5 cups of cooked organic jasmine rice. I boil mine plain- with no salt or oil.  Fresh basil ( about 2 leaves), fresh parsley ( about 1/2 cup chopped), zest of 1 lemon, 1 glove of garlic chopped, salt & pepper to taste, 1 tsbp olive oil

Vegetable stir fry:  2 heads of broccoli. cut washed and blanched. 2 carrots, peeled and chopped, 2 celery stalks, chopped, 1 large zucchini chopped, 1 yellow pepper chopped, 2  gloves of garlic- finely chopped, fresh parsley , fresh basil and 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, 1 tsbp olive oil

Chick Peas: 2 cups cooked chick peas, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp red curry powder

Directions:

Rice; Saute fresh garlic with olive oil, add cooked rice and stir fry for about 1 minute. add fresh herbs, salt, pepper and lemon zest, stir fry for another minute.

Veggies: saute all veggies with 1 tbsp of olive oil and garlic, add fresh herbs and ginger. Stir fry until desired consistency

Chick peas: heat 1 tsbp of olive oil with 1 tbsp red curry on medium heat, toast for about 45 seconds.. Add cooked chick peas and stir.  Place in lined baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes

combine all 3 into a bowl and enjoy!

 


Green Smoothie Bowl

This makes teh perfect post workout breakfast!  I’ve been trying to incorporate more raw meals into my daily nutrition and it seems like this while breaksfast smoothie thing is a ‘thing” right now, so i gave it a shot, with whatever I had in my fridge and I have to say I this is a keeper. I really enjoyed it and found it hit the spot after a crazy chest day!

Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh kale-chopped

1/4 of fresh banana ( or frozen)

1/4 cup frozen mango ( or fresh)

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 of an avocado

ice

1 tbsp of natural peanut butter

Toppings:

2 tbsp Coconut Yogurt

1 cup fresh berries

1tsp hemp seeds

1 tbsp raw walnuts

Directions:

In a blender add all ingredients and blend until desired consistency.  Poor into bowl and top with  coconut yogurt, fresh fruit, seeds and nuts.

super easy right?  I know!!!!


Lemon Blueberry Muffins (Vegan)

Baking is my thing!  There is just something about playing around in the kitchen that makes me happy.  My kitchen is my (other) happy place.  Since moving towards a more plant based diet, I  seem to be spending more and more time baking different things and this is where my training as a professional baker comes in. I like to make sure that all my creations are  quick, easy and of course something my boys will enjoy.   So, after grocery shopping and coming home with a big pint of organic blueberries I decided to bake with them.  Originally I was going to make a loaf, but I just find muffins are the perfect serving size and easier to pack.

These came out amazing, with no alterations needed to the first go at the recipe!  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did ( yes, past tense because they are already all gone )

Makes approx 20 muffins.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour ( for Gluten free use All purpose gluten free baking mix)

1/2 Cup Organic Quick Oats

1 Scoop Pea Protein ( optional)

1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar

1 flax egg ( 1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 3 tbsp warm water- let sit for 5 min)

1 tsp Cinnamon

1tsp Baking Soda

1 tbsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 ripe banana

zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp oil ( I use avocado oil- you can use olive oil, coconut oil or grapeseed oil)

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp Unsweetened Almond milk ( you can use any other milk alternative you like)

1 cup fresh ( or frozen) blueberries

Pumpkin seeds for topping ( optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffins tins
  2.  In a large bowl, mash banana and add coconut sugar, vanilla extra, flax egg and oil and mix well
  3. add: flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, pea protein, salt and cinnamon. Add 1/2 amount of almond milk and begin to mix. then add other 1/2 of almond milk
  4. with a spatula, fold in blueberries and lemon zest.
  5. using an ice cream scooper or spoon scoop mix into muffin tins, top with seeds and bake for 15-16 minutes turning trays at the 10 minute mark.
  6. once done, let cook on baking rack.
  7. serve and enjoy!!

store in air tight container for up to 3 days on counter.  These will also freeze very well!

 


O’Nutty Vegan Banana Muffins

 

Vegan- Banana Nut Muffins ( with GF option)

Serving: 20-24 Muffins ( depending on muffin tin size)

You know me, I love playing around in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking.  Since moving towards a more plant based diet, my baking skills have been coming in handy.  

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This recipe started with my kids asking for me to make my banana loaf. Naturally I needed to come up with a vegan version of it, that had some added health benefits.

 

Usually it takes me a few tries to get the recipe right, but not this time. Got is bang on the first try!  It’s super moist, fluffy and delish! It’s also packed with protein, fiber and essential nutrients ( bingo!)

Enjoy

Xo Denise

Ingredients:

1 flax egg ( 1 tbsp flax meal, 3 tbsp water- let sit for 5 minutes)

3 ripe bananas

1 ¼ cup- Whole wheat flour ( GF option- GF baking flour mix)

1 cup quick oats

1 scoop Pea Protein ( optional)

1tbsp chia seeds/hemp seeds (optional)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp baking powder

½ cup coconut sugar ( or you can use brown sugar)

2tbsp cane sugar

Pinch salt

½  tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ cup oil ( Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or grape seed oil)

¼ cup natural peanut butter

½ cup almond milk ( your choice- but I use unsweetened)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Grease/line muffin tins- set aside
  3. In a small bowl- mix all dry ingredients except for sugars, and set aside
  4. In a large bowl, mash bananas, add flax egg, vanilla extract, peanut butter and oil. Mix well, then add coconut sugar and cane sugar. Mix well
  5. Add dry ingredients and start to mix using a spatula. Add almond milk and mix until well combined
  6. Using an ice cream scooper ( or a tablespoon) scoop batter into tins
  7. Bake for 14-16 minutes. I have a gas oven, so my cooking time is less than a standard conventional oven, it make take a few extra minutes in a conventional oven.

The muffins will last up to 3 days on your counter in an airtight container, up to a week in your fridge or you can freeze them.

To make these school safe, you can eliminate the peanut butter, I actually just made a batch this morning without the PB, and it still came out delicious.

 

 


Pesto Veggie Pizza on a Spelt Crust

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Recently, I have started to add more plant-based meals into our daily nutrition trying to limit/decrease animal products and increase our intake of more wholesome foods including plant-based proteins.
With  2 boys and a husband who’s favorite food is pizza, I   decided to test out a full out veggie pizza for dinner incorporating everyone’s favorite veggies. Having just made a trip to the local natural food store, I bought a whole bunch of fresh, organic veggies and was able to use all fresh herbs from my garden 🙂  Having the boys come with me and pick out there veggies actually made this pizza one of the best pizza’s I’ve ever made (for real). Definitely a big hit! Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients:

1 fresh spelt pizza dough ( purchased from local natural food store) or you can use regular pizza dough- your choice

Toppings:

1/2 of both a purple and yellow bell pepper ( they had purple peppers!!! they are very light in flavor- so a great choice for picky eaters)

1 small zucchini, chopped finely

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup black olives

(added hot banana peppers on mine & Brad’s side of the pizza)

Pesto:

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic glove

handful of both fresh basil and parsley ( from my garden)

salt & pepper to taste

1tsp water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  1.  roll out  pizza dough and place on a greased pizza sheet. NOTE: if oyu are using spelt, it rolls out nice and thin. which gives you a really yummy thin crust (crispy) pizza
  2.  wash and cut all toppings, set aside
  3. using a blender, to make the pesto sauce, add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth
  4. spread pesto on dough evenly
  5. add all toppings
  6. bake for 12-15 minutes. I have a gas oven so it may take longer in a regular electric oven.

It’s been 641 Days!

When we ( us women/moms) feel sick, what do we usually do? We probably do what every mother does, we put ourselves last. It’s like the minute we become moms we forget that we are a person too and everything is all about our kids. We feed them first, we bath them first, we get them dressed first, we are always last and never ever think of doing something for ourselves first.  I hope my blog today will change this for you.  For several weeks leading up to September 24th 2015, I was feeling crappy and  not paying attention or listening to my body. I kept saying to myself, “I don’t need  to see the doctor, I’m fine, I’m busy, I’ll go tomorrow” , I always had something more important to do, I just wasn’t a priority, my kids, my work, our schedules were always too busy for me to take a time out. I kept saying and thinking to myself I’ll go tomorrow, but  I never went “tomorrow”, I actually never went at all until shit got really scary and what I thought was just a stupid little thing became  the one thing that would change my entire life.  

I had been experiencing some swelling, noticed it in my feet and hands. I  thought it was a summer heat thing and although I felt “off” I couldn’t put my finger on it so instead I chose to  ignored it because let’s face it I was too busy. ( being busy- my excuse for everything then).  Weeks went by, my symptoms got worse and just like that i woke up one day and couldn’t lift or feel my arms, close my hands or bend my elbows.  My feet had swollen to an unrecognizable size. I was dizzy and felt a type of tired that could only be explained as debilitating.  I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom, crying because I couldn’t walk to the bathroom and I knew something was wrong and that I had made a huge mistake in waiting.  On September 21st 2015, I finally went to see my family doctor – who I’ve known since I was 15. All she said when she walked in was “oh Denise”  and I broke down crying.  I think I broke down for a few reasons, I was tired of feeling like crap and I was scared shitless.  I knew I had to run a  battery of tests to confirm it, but all the signs pointed to Rheumatoid Arthritis ( RA). RA is a chronic, autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints.   You would think that I would know this since I work in healthcare, but i didn’t think it would be anything serious ( Honestly, I didn’t)

On September 24th my diagnosis was confirmed, I had a chronic disease with no known cure, a disease I was told I’d have to live with forever, a disease that would have me on a list of medication for the rest of my life.  I was put on steroids, methotrexate (a chemo drug) and hydroxychloroquine.   The side effects from both the steroids ( which is anxiety and weight gain) and  the methotrexate, which causes you to feel fatigued, to say the least it was a rough few weeks.  For me to open up about this is very hard because when I look back, I know I had gone through some form of depression and in hindsight I probably should have taken care of myself better, but at the time I was in survival mode.   My dad has RA, I didn’t want to end up with the deformities he had that resulted from this disease. I witnessed how much he suffered and the permanent damage it caused and that scared the shit out of me.  Also being on this many meds is for real scary. I don’t’ even like taking an Advil and here I was supposed to poison myself everyday taking 9 pills ( that for me was the hardest part).

The one thing about me, and for those that know me know how much this is true.  I’m competitive, in everything I do. So if I put my mind to something, it’s getting done. Period! (I think I get this from my mom).  I told myself that I needed to get back to normal and I needed to be healthy, I’m a mom, I have priorities!

At my follow-up appointment my physician said to me “Denise, we will get you through this, you will get better, I will bring you back to normal, you just have to give it all you have”  The minute she said that, my frame of mind shifted and all I  thought was “ Oh I got this, I’m all in!!!”  Then she said one thing to me  “ build muscle, it will protect your joints”.

Listen to what I am saying- BUILD MUSCLE, IT WILL PROTECT YOUR JOINTS!!!  This probably is  the most important message for someone who has RA.   I called or emailed every single gym, private trainer, health and wellness centre I could find in my area.  I was determined to find a trainer who had the experience in working with someone like me. Who would help me learn how to “build muscle to protect my joints”, someone who would just help me figure this whole exercise thing out.  I had made myself a commitment, I  decided I needed to take care of me.  I needed to care of me, so that I could take care of my family. My boys need a healthy mom and so in February 2016 I joined Snap Fitness. I started changing our eating habits and our food choices. I made a change for my family and for me!

It’s been 641 days since I was diagnosed, 1 year, 9 months and 2 days of me living with RA.  But what I am most proud of is that it has been  496 days since I joined a gym, 1 year, 4 months and 10 days of me putting myself first.  496  days of me being one healthy, bad ass, strong mom!

I won’t lie, some days are harder than others, some days I struggle, but most days I feel great. On the days I struggle I still get up and get my workouts in, it may not be 100% but it gets done. I’ll modify it, I’ll slow it down but the one thing I don’t do is make excuses.

There isn’t one excuse out there that is good enough to not take care of yourself. Be honest with yourself and make time, find the time. Why wait until you get sick or something happens for you to realize that you need to take care of yourself?  Don’t’ let anything, anyone or all the excuses stop you.  Your kids, your family, your jobs- they are not excuses, stop using them as one and start using them as your reasons.  What my kids see now, is a mom who is healthy, happy and strong.  What I hope I am teaching them is resilience, commitment, self appreciation, hard work and above all, self respect.  I want my boys to know and understand that women are strong. I want them to grow up knowing that there is no doubt a woman can “do that too” and I want them to know that there are no excuses great enough to stop you from achieving your goals and being your best self.    I want them to know that their mother is unstoppable!  Everyone has a story and we can all make excuses, but it comes down to a choice. You either want it or you don’t. You can either make everything a negative, or you can change your mind set. You can either do nothing, or do something. The  choice is always yours.

Be unstoppable!

In health & love

Xo Denise


Strong NOT Skinny!

I’m 37 and  this is the first time in my life that I have been “fit”. I was athletic until college but that’s about it.  Growing up in a family where obesity has been a chronic and at some times progressive condition, I always  focused on being “skinny” and thought that if I was skinny I would be healthy. I had been wrong on so many levels.    The fear of gaining weight caused me to hop on every fad diet bandwagon.  With my heaviest weight being 242 lbs after having my 1st son, trust me when I say I tried every diet there was, from LA diet, to Atkins, to BeachBody, to Isagenix  etc.   They worked in helping me to lose weight after the kids, but it was never sustainable.  I juggled between 150-185 for 12 years. For 12 years I focused on being skinny, that If I could be a size 4 I’d be perfectly healthy! I know there are many of you out there are in the exact same boat I was in. The desire to be skinny, to be “pre-baby” weight is sometimes the only thing we can think about. I really wish I knew then what I know now, because I would have saved myself  a lot of bad choices, a lot of restrictions and a lot of misery to be honest with you,  but this is why I decided this should be  my next blog. I’ve received so many questions about my workouts and diet. I love that you all have taken the time to reach out to me and I hope this gives you some food for thought!  

Mamas/ladies, listen up! Your only goal should be to become “strong” that needs to be your only focus not skinny, the weight loss will come with it naturally. Change your focus because you, yes YOU need to pick up some weights and I’m going to tell you why!

“ Aren’t you afraid to look like a man” – guess how many times women have asked me this question? My answer is always “Do men look like women if they don’t lift weights?”   like really people- don’t’ ask stupid questions!  You are a women, you will always look like one. Don’t mistaken your strength- ever!

I do  get it though, why so many of us women have the same questions or concerns.  When someone thinks about a strong body or muscles, they instinctively think about men not women. Unfortunately there are so many stereotypes and so much bullshit that keep women from experiencing the profound benefits of  resistance/strength training.  

Here are the reasons why you should start lifting weights!

Weight loss  

When compared to just cardiovascular exercise, resistance training always comes out on top. You burn more fat during and after your exercise with every training.  Although Cardio has it’s place and is essential in daily routine ( I firmly believe it keeps your internal organs healthy) resistance/strength training increases your metabolic rate and oxygen consumption. You will burn more fat in 30 minutes lifting weights than you would 1hr on the treadmill.

Lean Muscle- As you build your strength and lean muscle, your body uses more calories. As you build your muscles, the more inches you will lose. The stronger you get, the more fat you burn, the more muscle you gain, the more inches you lose…make sense now?  Okay good!  

Increased Energy-Resistance/strength  training increases your energy long after your workouts. It actually sustains your energy throughout the day. Increased energy helps you stay focused and well, you don’t have that 2pm slump or need for coffee or that craving of something sweet.

Joint Health-The more muscle you build around your joints, the more protected they are. Take this form someone who has RA. Build Muscle, protect your joints. Resistance/strength training also helps to maintain bone mass. The older women get, the less estrogen our body secrets. The more resistance and strength training you do, the less loss of body mass.  Building muscle is probably the healthiest thing you can do for your body.  

Strength-First, it is a great way to relieve stress, or it helps you manage it better anyway.  It will also does very one important thing- makes you feel powerful. When women feel powerful, they are determined, confident and strong. When we feel all those things we are happier and  healthier, both physically and mentally and we all know that happy and healthy women are unstoppable! Right?  ( hope you are nodding your head with me on this one)

When I first started, I was intimidated and  insecure, but there was something that happened when I picked up my first barbell.  Every day, every week I have gotten stronger. The changes have been incredible, but most of all I actually surprise myself ( on a daily basis actually)  The things our bodies can do is amazing, from how fast we build endurance to how quick we build strength. What you weren’t able to do one day you are completely able to do it the next week, it just takes patience and commitment.  The strength you build, builds your confidence and feeds your determination, is there really anything better than feeling 100% confident in your own body or  feeling powerful? I’m not sure there is!  (Did I mention how great it is to get a kick out of being able to lift or squat heavier than some men at the gym?  just sayin…I can kick some ass now and it feels great!)

Finding the right program that is right for you is challenging, but we all start somewhere, the point is just start! Pick a program, get a trainer, join a gym or  workout at home- whichever you decide, but just start.  Not tomorrow, not next week, not in a year, start now!  Change your eating habits and start exercising, start moving.  Eat healthy, make better choices and move your body.

Ladies, go put your hair in a bun and lift those bellz!

Happy Lifting

Xo Denise

*if you are interested in learning more about the programs I do, please visit the  Fitness section of this page**